Plymouth Baracuda was a two-door compact/midsize car manufactured by the Plymouth division of the Chrysler Corporation from 1964 through 1974. The 1970 Hemi Cuda is now one of the most sought-after Classic Muscle Cars. Hemi ’Cuda production was limited: 652 coupes were built in 1970, dropping to just 108 in 1971. Convertible production numbers approach those of some classic European sports cars, with 14 droptop Hemi ’Cudas built in 1970 and only seven in 1971.
The Barracuda’s hystory started in 1964 with a bizarre styling, a huge back window, and a small 273 cubic-inch V-8 engine as its maximum performance package. In 1968 it was built a super light Barracuda with the high-compression "race" version of the 426 Hemi engine. The styling changed radically 50 of these cars have been built. The only problem was that this cars was that where not street legal. They had no safety equipment for street use and no exhaust systems.
But the things were about to change in 1970 when a new design, different from the previous one, and more powerful version has been used. It was badged and advertised as the ’Cuda. The 1970 Baracuda was built on a new, slightly shorter, wider, and sportier version of Chrysler’s existing B platform, the E-body. This new generation eliminated the fastback, but kept the two-door coupe and convertible versions.
The 1970 Plymouth Hemi ’Cuda was first shown to the press in June, 1969 at the Chrysler Proving Grounds in Chelsea, Michigan. Back then it was the greatest expression of Muscle Car Detroit ever built. The model last only until the 1971 model, in both coupe and convertible versions.
The street version for the Hemi was developing closer to 450 bhp and nearly 500 lb-ft of torque, with a choice of four-speed manual or three-speed Torqueflite automatic transmissions.
After the switch to the E platform, which featured a larger engine bay than the previous A-body, Chrysler’s famous 426 in³ (7.0 L) Hemi would now be available from the factory in the Barracuda. The HemiCuda had about a factory rating of 6 MPG, and was sold without warranty.
The list of options made available for 1970 ’Cuda included: rallye wheels, a range of exciting colors sich as Plum Crazy, pistol grip shifters, hockey stick sport stripes, hood pins and a variety of creature comforts.
The aggressive sound of Hemi combined with visual street cred and Barrett-Jackson publicity now make these Cudas more expensive than most Ferraris produced in the same era. The 1970 Hemi ’Cuda was a limited production sold at over $150.000 per unit.
The 426 Street Hemi engine is the most legendary powerplant ever fitted in a muscle car. Out of all the body styles in which it was available from 1966-71, it was in the big-engine-in-a-small-car E-Bodies that the 426 was put to its best use. These classic long-hood, short-deck pony cars were turned into monster street machines when fitted with the Hemi V8, and today their popularity among collectors has driven prices into orbit.
With the 426 Hemi, the performance from the Hemi Cuda ended up being legendary. Race car drivers Swede Savage and Dan Gurney drove identical factory-sponsored Barracudas in the 1970 Trans-Am Series, although with no success. With the 440-6 and 426 Hemi, the performance from these production Barracudas ended up being legendary. The 1/4 mile times for these were 13.7 s @ 103 mph and 13.4 s @ 108 mph - both among the fastest times of the day. These engines were very easy to slightly modify and drop into the 12s, but either way - stock or modified - one could virtually have a 5-passenger race car.
The first official engine to use the "Hemi" name was developed in 1964. They had a displacement of 426 in³. The 426 Hemi was nicknamed the "elephant engine" at the time, a reference to its far-from-compact dimensions and extraordinary power.
The first 426 Hemi engine was used in NASCAR cars and the second and third in the 1964 Daytona 500 race.
For the street cars the 426 Hemi was made from 1965 through 1971. he street Hemi version was rated at a very conservative 425 hp with two Carter AFB carburetors. In reality, the engine could produce 450 to 475 hp and 490 lbs-ft of torque.
Next to Hemi, for the 1970 Barracuda were offered: the 440 Magnum (375 hp with a single four-barrel carb), and the Hemi-challenging 440 Six Pack, with three two-barrel carburetors (390 gross hp and a stunning 480 lb-ft of torque at a very low 2,300 rpm).
The 1970 Plymouth Hemi Cuda features: 4 speed pistol grip transmission, Super track Pac, Power brakes, front bucket seats, hood pins, sport hood, drip rail moldings, dual Exhaust, S15 Hemi suspension.
The original Plymouth Barracuda was built upon the A-body chassis, which was also common to several other vehicles manufactured by Chrysler, including the popular Dodge Dart. It was directly spun off of the existing Valiant series to appeal to a sportier market, and it is also considered the first pony car, because it preceded the Ford Mustang to market by two weeks.
In 1967 the Barracuda remained an A-body car, but was fully redesigned. To complement the fastback model, the vehicle now offered notchback and convertible options, replacing the 1966 versions. This second generation Barracuda would last for three years, from 1967 through 1969. An interesting way to visually tell the difference in all 3 years were the side marker lights: the 1967 Barracuda had no side marker lights at all, the 1968 model had small circular ones and the 1969 model had much larger rectangular ones.
In 1970 another redesign was in order for the Barracuda. This new design looked quite a bit different than the previous models. One of the reasons was that it was now built on a new, slightly shorter and sportier version of Chrysler’s existing B-body platform, the E-body.
The new Baracuda eliminated the fastback, but kept the two-door coupe and convertible versions. It also had a Dodge twin known as the Challenger; however, not one exterior body panel interchanged between the two cars. They were bulky, but aggressively and cleanly styled, although they were clearly influenced by the first generation Chevrolet Camaro. After the switch to E-body platform, which featured a larger engine bay than the previous A-body, Chrysler’s famous 426 in³ (7.0L) Hemi would now be available from the factory in the ’Cuda.
No major changes for the 1971 Barracuda: just a new grille and taillights. This would be the only year that the Barracuda would have four headlights, and also the only year of the optional fender "gills". The 1971 Barracuda engine options would remain the same as that of the ’70, except for the fact that now you could not order a 440-4bbl in your ’Cuda.
1972 Plymouth Barracuda
In 1972, the Barracuda would keep its overall look the same through 1974, with dual headlights and four circular taillights. But like other pony cars of the time, these years showed a major decrease in the Barracuda’s power due to stricter emission laws. The largest available engine in 1972 was the 340 4bbl; a 360 was available in 1974. New safety regulations would also force the vehicle to have large front and rear bumper guards in 1973 and 1974.
The Barracuda hung on through 1974, after which it was discontinued in the midst of the 1973 oil crisis. Production ended ten years (to the day) after it had begun. Although today they are sought-after collector cars, the third generation was a marketplace failure and never successfully competed with rival offerings from Ford and General Motors. The rarity of specific models and combinations today is primarily the result of low original-buyer interest and production.